Like so many highschool seniors in 2020, Alison Harbaugh had her remaining spring sports activities season taken away by the coronavirus pandemic. Her dad and mom, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and his spouse, Ingrid, missed out on the milestone second of watching their solely little one stroll throughout the stage in a standard commencement ceremony.
Regardless of what they misplaced, what the Harbaugh household gained, surprisingly, have been recollections of a distinct kind that they’re going to savor when Alison is at Notre Dame, the place she has dedicated to play lacrosse.
Since he arrived in Baltimore in 2008, this was the time of yr when Harbaugh spent hours on the Ravens’ facility watching spring observe, going over movie and attending conferences.
Nevertheless, in the course of the 12 weeks of the state-ordered shutdown, he was a stay-at-home father and in addition served as an impromptu defender/assistant coach/teammate to assist his daughter hold sharp on the sport she loves.
When he is coaching with Alison two to 3 instances per week, Harbaugh is not the reigning NFL Coach of the Yr. He is only a lacrosse dad.
“If I used to be at work, I might by no means have been part of that,” Harbaugh stated earlier than returning to the Ravens’ facility in mid-June. “It has been a blessing.”
At his dwelling nestled on 10 acres simply north of Baltimore, Harbaugh is taking what he considers his good timeout from the day by day pursuit of one other Tremendous Bowl title.
After a noon digital assembly with Ravens gamers, Harbaugh is operating round his entrance yard, the place he’s tirelessly chasing his 18-year-old daughter with a padded lacrosse stick.
Harbaugh goes one-on-one with Alison, doing his finest to maintain a soon-to-be Division I lacrosse participant away from the purpose regardless of being simply 4 months faraway from knee surgical procedure. He places her via drills that he has designed to enhance her footwork and explosion. He fills in as one among her teammates so she will observe feeding passes across the crease.
Even when Alison has a socially distanced exercise with a coach within the pouring rain, Harbaugh is that dad who’s off to the facet filming it on his telephone.
“I simply bear in mind wanting over at him and he was simply smiling,” Alison stated. “I might simply inform he was the happiest individual ever in that second.”
Harbaugh at all times has supported Alison at lacrosse, although he knew little or no in regards to the sport when she started taking part in it in second grade. Alison acknowledged it was onerous to take her dad severely when he referred to as her stick a lacrosse “racket” for 5 years and he performed catch whereas carrying a baseball glove.
Essentially the most difficult half for Harbaugh as of late is watching Alison’s video games, the place his demeanor is far completely different than what soccer followers are inclined to witness. On the NFL sidelines, Harbaugh strikes a commanding presence, whether or not it is ripping into an official over a questionable penalty or telling quarterback Lamar Jackson on the bench about how he is inspiring the subsequent era of gamers.
Whereas watching lacrosse, Harbaugh is a fan, albeit an anxious and often quiet one. When he does discuss, the one one who can hear him is his spouse. Beneath his breath, Harbaugh will say, “Oh, my gosh, that was a nasty name.” When Alison glances over to the facet throughout video games, her father has the identical tense look on his face.
“He says watching her video games is far more troublesome than teaching the Ravens throughout video games,” Ingrid stated. “On the Ravens, he looks like he has somewhat extra management. When he is watching Alison, he needs her to do properly and would not need her to get damage.”
Amongst John Harbaugh’s largest considerations is Alison getting focused by officers and different gamers due to him. The identify “Harbaugh” is on the again of her jersey when she performs for her membership workforce. It is common for a referee to ask Alison throughout a sport, “Is your father the coach of the Ravens?”
These near Harbaugh bear in mind one trade with an official when his daughter’s lacrosse sport resembled M&T Financial institution Stadium. It occurred two years in the past when Alison reduce off a participant to the sideline and the whistle blew.
Harbaugh: “Good job, Alison. That is the best way to hustle.”
Referee: “Do not inform her that. That wasn’t a great job. She did not try this proper.”
Harbaugh: “Hey, she’s my daughter and I am going to inform her no matter I select to inform her.”
The subsequent day on the match, Ingrid was shocked to see Harbaugh smiling with that very same referee within the car parking zone. Harbaugh came upon the official attended Western Michigan on the similar time Harbaugh’s father, Jack, was the pinnacle soccer coach there.
“It turned out to be a great giggle,” Harbaugh stated.
Is it cool having an NFL head coach as your father?
For Alison, she actually would not know another life. She was a preschooler when Harbaugh was employed by the Ravens in 2008. When she does errands together with her father, she is aware of it will be briefly interrupted by somebody asking Harbaugh to offer an autograph and pose for an image. Throughout her tour of Notre Dame, it took solely a stroll via the eating corridor at lunchtime earlier than Harbaugh was seen by college students.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh and his daughter Alison mirror on how they are going to miss the particular moments they’ve shared on the Ravens’ sidelines as she prepares to go away for faculty.
Alison believes she would not get hounded as a lot as a result of she attends a non-public all-girls college, though she does must shoot down sure perceptions. No, she will’t get you free tickets. No, she would not hang around with Jackson and the opposite gamers.
There actually are perks that include being the daughter of a coach who’s the fourth-longest tenured within the NFL, behind Invoice Belichick (New England Patriots), Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints) and Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers). She rode within the Humvee together with her father in the course of the Tremendous Bowl parade seven years in the past. Her household additionally bought a standing ovation at a pizza restaurant on the finish of final season, when Baltimore had one of the best document within the NFL.
However it’s the making an attempt moments that John and Ingrid imagine have in the end made her stronger. After Billy Cundiff’s missed discipline purpose value the Ravens a visit to the Tremendous Bowl within the 2011 AFC Championship Sport, a 9-year-old Alison answered query after query in regards to the heartbreaking loss in school the subsequent day by saying: “I am very pleased with my dad. I am very pleased with the workforce.” Throughout the time when the Ravens did not make the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, Alison stood on the free throw line of a highschool basketball sport and heard chants of “Your dad sucks” from the visiting crowd.
“I do not suppose for one second that she would not face sure strain that must be actually robust,” Harbaugh stated. “I am pleased with her about so many issues, however that could be the factor that, from my perspective, I am most pleased with her. As a result of it is not possible for me or Ingrid to grasp what it’s to be an NFL head coach’s daughter within the city taking part in sports activities. There’s advantages to it, and I additionally suppose there’s some actual troublesome issues to it.”
Like Alison, John Harbaugh grew up round soccer as a result of his father was a lifelong faculty coach. Jack Harbaugh was an assistant at Michigan in the course of the teenage years of sons John and Jim and made positive they have been concerned with the workforce. They stacked tackling dummies, helped clear up and even bought taped to the purpose submit.
It was going to be completely different for John as a result of he has a daughter, however he was very delicate to not exclude her. On sport days, Alison and the opposite coaches’ kids — it did not matter in the event you have been a boy or a woman — helped on the Ravens’ sideline by handing out printed footage of performs from atop the stadium to assistants. Every little one acquired $25 per sport and the prospect to be a part of the motion.
Neither John nor Alison can bear in mind the precise sport, however Alison began standing subsequent to her father in the course of the nationwide anthem across the 2012 season. This budding custom confronted a possible snag when Baltimore reached the Tremendous Bowl that season.
“You could not work the Tremendous Bowl until you have been 14. As a result of she was in fifth grade, we needed to completely lie,” Ingrid stated. “It was so unhealthy.”
When the nationwide anthem started on the Tremendous Bowl, Harbaugh had his proper hand over his coronary heart and his left arm round Alison. Afterward, Harbaugh gave Alison a kiss on the brow and she or he whispered in his ear: “Hey, Dad, we will do that.”
Even as much as final season, Alison was by her father’s facet for the nationwide anthem at practically each dwelling sport and one highway journey.
“I feel it is one thing that we actually admire and revel in doing collectively,” Alison stated. “It is positively been actually cool to do this. I will miss it subsequent yr. It is going to be unhappy, however I feel he’ll be extra unhappy than me about it.”
Sit with the Harbaugh household at dinnertime, and there is a good probability you may hear laughter. They select a sitcom to observe on TV whereas consuming. It is one episode an evening, they usually do not cease till they undergo the complete sequence. They’ve completed all of “Frasier” and “The Huge Bang Concept.” “Fashionable Household” is the favourite proper now.
John, Ingrid and Alison then get out the board video games, and Baltimore’s all-time winningest NFL coach is on a shedding streak. However it was the time when Alison first misplaced that Ingrid realized how a lot she’s identical to her father. The household was taking part in Chutes and Ladders like they usually did, however John determined he wasn’t going to let his 6-year-old daughter win like he did up to now. She was going to must learn to deal with defeat.
Alison screamed, cried and pushed over the board.
There aren’t any extra tantrums as of late. The competitiveness, although, nonetheless exists. Alison can play properly in a sport, but when her workforce loses, that is unacceptable.
“I inform her usually: ‘You come by it actually, imagine me, honey,'” John stated. “It is in your genetics, your DNA.”
Brooke Shriver, who coaches Alison in lacrosse on the Bryn Mawr College, sees that zeal to succeed. When she calls out “subsequent purpose wins,” she notices that Alison needs the ball in her stick. Alison, who’s a useful asset as a left-hander on assault, recorded 17 objectives and 14 assists final season and scored 4 objectives within the first scrimmage of this yr earlier than the season ended due to the coronavirus.
Alison’s power is her imaginative and prescient. She has nice consciousness and anticipation that she makes use of to arrange her teammates. The place coaches have seen the largest development is her confidence. Alison is rather more aggressive, and she or he would not draw back from serving to out the youthful gamers and talking up at halftime.
“I feel she actually has gotten that from John having the ability to join with individuals and be revered,” Shriver stated. “It is like having one other coach.”
Alison has considered stepping into the household enterprise and turning into a sports activities coach, however she’s preserving her choices open. She usually will get a behind-the-scenes have a look at teaching, and her father has requested her just a few instances to look over an e-mail earlier than he sends it to the workforce. Few perceive the extent of dedication it takes to be a coach greater than Alison. Throughout the NFL season, she would not see her father from Monday via Thursday. Harbaugh is often dwelling Friday afternoon.
Despite the fact that most of his fall and winter is spent in his workplace, Harbaugh nonetheless finds methods to point out how a lot Alison means to him. He rearranged a late-week observe so he might watch Alison ship her senior speech, which he acknowledged introduced tears to his eyes. He did not let knee surgical procedure get in his method of watching her basketball sport, utilizing crutches to get within the stands in the future after his operation.
When Alison signed her letter of intent to play at Notre Dame, Harbaugh stood on the podium for his media session carrying a Combating Irish lacrosse quarter-zip pullover. Shortly, the telephone for Notre Dame girls’s lacrosse coach Christine Halfpenny blew up.
“I informed them, he is at all times like that. You at all times see the satisfaction that John has in Alison,” Halfpenny stated. “He is simply so genuine. That is the phrase I consider once I consider John Harbaugh. He cares, so, a lot, and he is type and sensible and articulate. That is what you see additionally in Alison, and it is so cool.”